The exhibition presents to the public one of the largest collections of contemporary Russian art — the collection of Viktor Bondarenko, collector, patron of arts, honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts, and member of the State Tretyakov Gallery Council of Trustees. The display includes approximately 100 works by artists belonging to several generations.
The main idea of the exhibition is to reflect the history of contemporary art through the prism of a private collection. Amongst the artists presented in the collection are all prominent figures of contemporary Russian art, including Oskar Rabin, Vladimir Nemukhin, Mikhail Shwarzman, Erik Bulatov, Ilya Kabakov, Ernst Neizvestny, Dmitry Gutov, Alexander Kosolapov, Oleg Kulik, and many others. However, Bondarenko’s range of interests is not confined to celebrities only. His collection encompasses a wide range of contemporary art, its various trends, spheres, and media. It includes small-scale paintings by «other art» artists of various trends, key pictures and objects by masters who make up the nucleus of the «Moscow conceptual school», works by classics of Sots-Art, Post-Modernist painting and photo-realism, as well as works by leading figures of the post-Soviet period. Moreover, Bondarenko follows the current artistic process with enthusiasm and supports the work of promising young authors.
Viktor Bondarenko’s view is particularly interesting because he is the most influential collector of icons, being, at the same time, production director of projects in the sphere of the newest visual art technologies.
Works from the collection of Viktor Bondarenko have been shown repeatedly in group and solo exhibitions of contemporary art, but the collection has never been exhibited in the full scale.
The catalogue was prepared for this exhibition, as well as a book on the history of contemporary Russian art, based on the collection of Viktor Bondarenko.
An international scientific conference, dedicated to the academic research of the issues in contemporary Russian art, is also timed to the exhibition. The aim of the conference is to discuss a wide range of issues in contemporary Russian art and its interaction with international practice. A conference of such type is a chance to bring together academic scientists from various institutions and cities, museum researchers, authoritative critics and curators, foreign specialists in Russian art, and the young generation of scientists.
Parallel to the display at Gogolevsky Boulevard, the third exhibition of Viktor Bondarenko’s collection of icons entitled «Everything Remains with the People» will be on view in the Andrey Rublev Central Museum of Ancient Russian Culture and Art.
Viktor Alexandrovich Bondarenko was born on April 22, 1950 in Kharkov. He is a publisher, a businessman, a collector, a patron of arts, the founder of «Passport International» and «Military Parade» publishing houses. He organised the exhibition «20th Century Russian Art: The Avant-Garde Years, the Glasnost Years» in the Museum of Nassau County (New York, USA, 1992; in collaboration with the Russian Cultural Foundation). He is one of the curators and the main sponsor of the exhibition «The World of Sensitive Objects in the Pictures of the End of the 20th Century» in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (Moscow, 1997). Viktor Bondarenko owns one of the best Russian collections of Orthodox icons. He organised several outstanding exhibitions of Russian icons («It is by the Fruit that the Tree is Known», 2003, State Tretyakov Gallery; «Icon Painting of the Romanov Dynasty Epoch», 2008, the State Tretyakov Gallery) and contemporary art — including the much talked-of «DEISIS» project in the State Tretyakov Gallery (2004). He lives and works in Moscow.
The collection of Bondarenko is «very representative in its inclusion of the most significant names and manifestations of art of recent decades. Very few collectors demonstrate such a quick reaction to the artistic production of young artists who have not yet made a name for themselves. This testifies to his profound approach to the material... However, this collection also includes traces that reveal the collector’s will and a certain cheekiness, to use the youngsters’ slang... Bondarenko definitely has preferences „discordant“ with the most knowledgeable advisers and authoritative figures, personal weaknesses, swings in mood and taste.... And this seems very attractive. And promising, because, as it appears, and not only to me, today there is an ever increasing tiredness of sterile, impersonal presentations, tailored according to all the rules of good curator style...»
Alexander Borovsky, head of Contemporary Trends Department of the State Russian Museum
«Viktor Bondarenko has become well-known as collector of Russian icons. Russian here refers not only to ancient pieces, before the 18th century, but also to the Synod Period or, as the author of the collection prefers to put it, „the Romanov Dynasty epoch“. To a large extent, his collecting activity is recognised as a model in terms of scientific approach to a private collection and has actually led to the rehabilitation of the late period of Russian icon painting in the eyes of specialists, museum curators and other collectors. Perhaps, it is no mere chance that a different and — it is now obvious — no less important aspect of his collecting interest turned out to be Russian contemporary art — in the established sense of the word, from the post-war years till today: Bondarenko justly insists that the icon, for a number of centuries, was „contemporary art“, where both stylistic and visual innovations penetrated. Apart from that, as is known, icons and the Avant-garde have very much in common...
Bondarenko, as it seemed to the public, has been deeply interested in contemporary art for the last five years, but, in fact, the beginning of his collection dates back to the 1990s when he financed an exhibition in America of a number of artists who are well-known today, but were newcomers to the international art market at that time. In the case of Konstantin Khudyakov, whose producer he became, it transformed into a fully-fledged co-authorship. In future, this collaboration may produce ultra-contemporary, hyper-sensitive images of synthesis founded on national artistic traditions — from icons and frescoes to multi-media. But for now this impressive undertaking, rare for Russia, bears a local character, pursuing the aim of creating internationally competitive works based on the latest visual technologies and harsh naturalistic aesthetics. In comparison with it the collection is by no means a less ambitious project.»
Sergey Popov, art critic